Rolling protests in West Papua

A SERIES of protests has taken place in West Papua in support of Vanuatu’s plan to address human rights abuse by Indonesia.

The protests in Sentani and Jayapura led to some 80 arrests by security forces.

Vanuatu has promised to address Indonesia’s occupation of the former Dutch colony when Pacific leaders meet in Nauru tomorrow.

Pacific governments led by Fiji and Papua New Guinea continue, however, to support Indonesia which has attempted to reduce Papuan numbers through internal migration.

Vanuatu hopes to gain support for West Papua to be enlisted in the United Nations decolonisation list


Source: Islands Business

Arrests at West Papua Protest

INDONESIAN security forces have arrested 50 protesters who want human rights abuses in West Papua to be addressed by Pacific leaders.

The protest in Sentani called on leaders at the Pacific Islands Forum on Nauru to raise the issue of self-determination for Papuans.

Armed police arrested the protesters and removed banners.

West Papua was anexxed by Indonesia with the support of the United States, Australia and the United Nations in 1969.

Since then Indonesian forces have tortured and killed more than 500,000  Papuans.

The United Movement for the Liberation of West Papua which was behind today’s protest has consistently sought support from Pacific governments for help.

This includes recognition in the Melanesian Spearhead Group and at the UN. But these moves have been blocked by Fiji and Papua New Guinea, Indonesia’s largest allies inn the region.


Source: Islands Business

China delegate storms out on Nauru host at Pacific Islands Forum

By in Nauru

Leaders attend the Pacific Islands Forum at the Civic Center in Aiwo on the island of Nauru today. Picture: AFP
Leaders attend the Pacific Islands Forum at the Civic Center in Aiwo on the island of Nauru today. Picture: AFP

China’s representative at the Pacific Island Forum in Nauru has stormed out of talks with forum nations after a dispute with host nation leader, President Baron Waqa.

The Chinese “dialogue partner” left the closed doors meeting after what was described as a “terse exchange of words” with Mr Waqa.

Nauru, which recognises Taiwan, had already angered the Chinese observer delegation by refusing to allow them into the country on official passports.

The diplomatic incident came as Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne urged China to heed the benchmarks set by Australia in the way in which it delivered aid to the Pacific.

Ms Payne said the regional Biketawa Plus security declaration to be signed at the forum was not aimed at any particular nation, despite concerns in Australia, the United States and New Zealand about growing Chinese influence in the region.

“China is Australia’s largest trading partner,” she said.

“There is no question of that. What I would say though, is that any nation who wants to make a contribution, who wants to support by provision of assistance or aid, into a region like the Pacific, should perhaps look at the benchmarks that we adopt; benchmarks around strengthening security, strengthening stability, and strengthening prosperity.

“And we look forward to working together with all of those who want to make a constructive contribution.”

Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi had threatened to pull out of the meeting over Nauru’s refusal to allow Chinese delegates into Nauru on their diplomatic passports, while Fiji also piled the pressure on Nauru.

Samoa and Fiji are both are major recipients of Chinese aid and soft loans.

President Waqa tried to smooth over the dispute yesterday, saying there had been a “misunderstanding”.

“It so happens that Nauru has no diplomatic relation with China,” Mr Waqa said.

“We have a reciprocal arrangement which has been there for a long long time where … (Nauran) ministers attending multilateral meetings in China aren’t issued visas but are expected to travel on ordinary passports.

“Also the reciprocal arrangement is that they too, when they travel here, travel on ordinary passports. That’s quite normal. They too know that.”

He said the dispute had been resolved, although he refused to say whether Nauru had stood its ground and forced the Chinese delegates to travel on their personal passports.

“We have allowed them to come and we have just issued them a visa,” he said.

Nauru is one of the few nations in the Pacific to recognise Taiwan

Nauru is one of a number of smaller Pacific states which recognise Taiwan, while China maintains close diplomatic relations with the larger Pacific nations including Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.

China has provided Fiji with about US$360m in aid and loans over a decade, and Samoa about about US$230m.

The 2017 foreign affairs white paper committed Australia to “stepping up our engagement in the Pacific” amid concerns over China’s growing influence.

The white paper also commits Australia to “strongly support the Pacific Islands Forum, the pre-eminent regional organisation, through which leaders set regional priorities”.

However, Australia is already under pressure at the annual meeting of 18 Pacific nation’s over the Prime Minister’s decision not to attend, and the Morrison government’s recent shift on climate policy.